For 18 years I have been filming Pénélope, a young adult with autism. One day I opened the cupboard that contained DV tapes and Super 8 reels. It almost popped my eyes out. We had to bring all these images together.
Pénélope mon amour traces the journey of a mother and her daughter through the years. It tells of different stages: the shock of the diagnosis, the declaration of war, the abdication of arms, to finally accept and discover a different mode of existence. This body of Pénélope, and a fortiori this body of the autistic person in the social space, what place does it occupy and what place do we give it? What land can cinema invent to design a hospitable space, dream of a world allowing the invisible to become visible?
Pénélope keeps cheering for what she is, I keep questioning who she is. The answer to the question is precisely in this endless quest. Everything is mirrored to me. So, isn't it Pénélope who in turn tells me who I am?
Dir. Claire Doyon - 88min - 2021 - France
"What really changes is Claire’s perspective, as she slowly comes to a sort of acceptance of Pénélope as she is, even if she’s aware that the hope for improvement is an unquenchable parental itch. Personally, I found it all profoundly relatable, in part, paradoxically, because Claire doesn’t try to universalise her and her family’s experience in any way, and she never stops questioning her own choices – not just about how to raise Pénélope but whether to film her, what to show, and what to edit out." - Guardian
"It is the story of a young woman who will never fit in but whom the cinema, because it is able to appreciate her extraordinary existence, helps her to find her own special place in the world." - Winner Georges de Beauregard National Prize, FID Marseille
“a total, liberating, healing act of cinema” - Quinlan
"disarmingly unconcerned with the celebration of maternal love or the supposedly inexorable innocence of children. Here, maternal love appears as the most conditional of all." - Slant
"Doyon compiled this love letter to her daughter from a cupboard full of Super 8 films, DV tapes, and HD recordings." - IFFR
"A painfully honest autobiography, a story of motherly love and struggle that knows no bounds. Flawless direction, a film that is etched in memory." - Winner Best Director, Belgrade IFF
"Doyon’s deeply generous work...embraces the beauty of difference" - MoMA Doc Fortnight